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Taliban leader Mullah Omar confirmed dead

By Amy R. Connolly and Danielle Haynes
Taliban leader Mullah Omar confirmed dead
Mullah Omar, the reclusive supreme leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan, is reported to have died two years ago of tuberculosis. The Afghan government is investigating those reports. The U.S. State Department had issued a $10 million bounty on Mullah Omar. Image courtesy of the U.S. State Department

KABUL, Afghanistan, July 29 (UPI) -- Mullah Omar, the reclusive supreme leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan, died two years ago, Afghan officials confirmed Wednesday.

Abdul Hassib Seddiqi, a spokesman for Afghanistan's security services, told the BBC Omar died of health problems at a hospital in Pakistan.

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A spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani confirmed the news to CNN, citing "credible information."

Earlier Wednesday, the Afghan government launched an investigation into Omar's status after several news organizations, citing anonymous or unnamed sources, reported his death.

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There have been several reports of Mullah Omar's death in the past, but this is the first to be confirmed by top Afghan government sources, the BBC reported.

"Mullah Omar died two years and four months ago owing to tuberculosis. He has been buried on the Afghan side of the border," a former minister told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity. "Mullah Omar's son had identified the body of his father."

Earlier this month, the Afghan Taliban released a message attributed to Mullah Omar to mark the Ramadan festival of Eid al-Fitr. He has not been seen in public for at least 13 years.

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His death would raise questions about who is leading the movement as it is deeply divided over whether to pursue peace talks with the Afghan government to end the 14-year war.

Mullah Omar was seen as a charismatic supreme leader who was directly involved in "jihadi activities." In a biography published earlier this year, he was described as someone with a "special sense of humor."

He became the Taliban's supreme leader in 1996 and was forced into hiding following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The U.S. State Department has had a $10 million bounty on his whereabouts. Over the years, he formed close ties with al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden.

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The Taliban is expected to release a statement regarding Omar later Wednesday.

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